2017 | 62 | 2 | 35-54
Article title

Imagining Nuclear Future in Socialist Poland: Plans and Dreams

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In the 1950s Poland expected the arrival of an “atomic age”, even though it had relatively rich coal reserves and finding alternative sources of energy was not as urgent as for other countries at that time. Even so, in Poland of the 1950s nuclear energy production was presented as a necessity, since it was believed that energy consumption would rise exponentially in the future. Moreover, unlike coal, nuclear energy was supposed to be environmentally friendly and safe. It is therefore not surprising that the idea of constructing a nuclear power plant in Poland in the 1950s was seen as a natural part of the country’s development, while other plans for using nuclear energy, such as construction of a nuclear-powered ship, were discussed as well. Those Polish plans and dreams were expressed mainly in contemporary texts, such as articles in newspapers and journals, popular science books, and official documents. The characteristic feature of majority of those texts were excessive expectations regarding the potential of nuclear energy, unfounded faith in its safety and environmental friendliness, and, last but not least, the conviction that without nuclear energy Poland would be “left behind”. The nuclear discourse was in the 1950s largely monolithic and based on the state’s official policy, which was unequivocally in favour of nuclear energy. This uniform character of the nuclear discourse was largely due to the fact that scientists, journalists, and politicians formed a unified front. Consequently, regardless of who (member of which of those groups) wrote about nuclear energy, one could always find certain ever-present patterns in those opinions, mainly a common goal (development of nuclear energy production), evaluation (nuclear energy is necessary and right), and ideological context (the development of nuclear energy goes hand in hand with the transition of a socialist society to communism). Nuclear optimism was thus in Poland of the 1950s closely linked to a relatively monolithic discourse, which led to the creation of a “nuclear propaganda”.
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  • Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague
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